Identifying Morphological and Mechanical Traits Associated with Stem Lodging in Bioenergy Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor)
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2017, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Stem lodging in Sorghum is a major agronomic problem that has far-reaching economic consequences. More rapid and reliable advances in stem lodging resistance could be achieved through development of selective breeding tools that are not dependent on post hoc data or dependent on abiotic or biotic environmental factors. Our objective was to use sorghum to examine how mechanical stability is achieved and lost, and to provide insights into the development of a rapid and reliable phenotyping approach. The biomechanical properties of the stems of six bioenergy sorghum genotypes were investigated using a three-point bending test protocol. Important morphometric data were also collected, and previously collected lodging scores were used to associate with morphological and mechanical traits. Nodes were two to three-folds stronger, stiffer, and more rigid than internodes. In general, internodes were numerically weakest and more rigid between internodes 3 and 6, corresponding to the area where higher stem lodging is observed. Internode strength was negatively correlated with diameter (r=0.77, P<0.05) and volume (r=0.96, P<0.01), while stem lodging was positively correlated with flexural rigidity (r=0.85, P<0.05) and volume (r=0.78, P<0.05). The analysis revealed key functional traits that influence the mode and location of stem lodging. Moreover, these results indicate the potential of these methods as a selective breeding tool for indirect selection of stem lodging resistance in bioenergy sorghum.